Neuroconservation — your brain on nature: Wallace J. Nichols at TEDxSantaCruz


Translator: Denise RQ
Reviewer: Mary Kay Where were you
when you fell in love with nature? Where were you
when you really, completely, deeply head over heels, all-in,
obsessively, fell for nature? Were you walking in the forest? Were you near water, by a river or a lake, under a waterfall? Were you looking into the eyes
of an animal in the wild? And feeling its energy,
in your own, connect? Were you looking at the shy through leaves
and listening to the sound of wind? Were you walking along our coast, along the cliffs,
looking out at the ocean? Were you on the bow of a boat with the dolphins, perhaps? Or were you completely immersed
on the bottom of the sea, quietly, with your thoughts
with the animals around you? I remember where I was. I was in Wyoming
in the Snowy Range, near Deep Lake. I can feel the grass between my toes, still, from that day,
and I can smell the air. I can hear the wolves
howling at night, still! And I can taste the trout
that we caught in the lake. But back then, I was really
in love with turtles, and I don’t have a photo
of myself with a turtle (Laughter) unfortunately, I really wish I did, but I don’t! It must have looked something like that. (Laughter) More or less … The thing was that as a kid,
I can’t explain why, but I loved turtles. I loved to check them out, I loved
to catch them and to release them. And I dreamed about turtles. Now, that sounds a little weird. I was obsessed with turtles. To the point where I see
turtles everywhere. (Laughter) I even see a few turtly folks
out here in the audience. There’s always a couple. (Laughter) I don’t mean to embarrass you,
you know who you are! (Laughter) But I turned that passion for turtles and that obsession for turtles into a career, as a marine biologist. I told my family and my friends
that I was going to be a turtle-guy and I got my PhD and guess what? I met turtle guys and gals
all over the world who felt the same way. (Laughter) Turtle-geeks Unite! And we have been working together
to bring see turtles back from the edge of extinction
around the world. (Applause) And the thing that drives that
as a scientist, the thing that drives that
is that passion, that unbridled passion, that connection, that we all share with nature. And I used to try to talk
about that as a scientist, and I would get push back, from my graduate school community members,
from colleagues, and they’d say, “You know, that touchy-feely stuff
is kind of soft, isn’t it?” No, it’s not. Those feelings, that emotional
connection to nature, that is my science. That is what will get us out
of this jam that we’re in. That is what will save see-turtles. (Applause) And the science is now catching up. We are beginning to understand that as we go deeper into that emotion that feeling of awe,
that feeling of connection that is our science. Now, we used to understand
the human brain as a black box. We didn’t know what was going on inside – we could poke, and prod,
and see what happen – but essentially, it was a black box. Now, we can look inside. Now we can see
what’s going on in our brains. We are living at a time that is
the golden age of neuroscience. It’s an incredible time
to be thinking about the human brain. Through technology
like functional MRIs and EEGs, we can map brain activity, we can see what’s going on when we are in motion, and at rest,
and in a variety of circumstances. We have a deeper understanding
of neurochemistry. Chemicals like oxytocin,
that are well known as having an important role in connecting us to each other,
connecting us to our world. People love oxytocin. (Laughter) People really love oxytocin! (Laughter) And there are people running around,
and part of my tribe , who put tattoos of turtles on their backs, and there are people
who put up oxytocin on their backs. (Laughter) There’s a connection there. This generation is the first generation with a User’s Guide to the human brain. And the question is how will we use it? What will we do with it? Ecologists understand our world
through terms like trophic cascades where bringing back predators
completely adjust an entire system to the point of cleaning up our waters. Fixing the predators does a cascade
through the ecosystem and it cleans up our waters. And we’re beginning to value the services provided
from our ecosystems. And these are important concepts. But what I offer is “Let’s go further.” Let’s talk about neurological cascades. Let’s take it a step further. Because when we fix the predators, they fix the pray, that cleans up
the water, then what? We can connect with that water. And the emotional services
that that healthy ocean, that that healthy river,
that that forest offers to us, is a feedback
who’d been bringing us back more deeply into
that connection with nature. [Do you] see where I’m going? Out there, when we’re in nature relaxing, our brains are different. We shift, and that’s important. Nature brings us deeper into ourselves, connects us more, to it, and our planet, and each other. I call this field “neuroconservation”. Neuroscience has been applied
to a variety of things, like neuromarketing [or] neuropoliticking. Neuroscience is helping us spend
more time productively in our offices. Why not apply neuroscience
to fixing nature? Let’s do that. Let’s lean in to that connection. Nature is medicine. This is an ancient idea that is now reiterated
through modern science. A walk on the beach, a surf session, a stroll through the woods heals us, it fixes what’s broken inside of us. Nature can reduce our stress, it can make us more creative, it can bring us together and it does of all that
with the minimum amount of side effects. [Salutogen] (Laughter) It’s pretty cost-effective too. (Laughter) This is a friend of mine,
named Chuy Lucero, and Chuy grew up hunting
and eating sea turtles in Mexico. We began working together, and Chuy met a baby sea-turtle
for the first time, and releasing that baby sea-turtle
into the ocean changed him. He said, “How have I gotten
to be of this age without knowing about
these animals in that stage? How can I help bring them back? I’ve been part
of driving them to extinction, how can I help to bring them back? And I’ve been working
with Chuy for 20 years. He’s a hero and a very good friend. And he was transformed through the act
of spending time with nature. I believe that soon,
neuroscientists will tell us that being in the presence of nature lights up our brains the same way
as the faces of those we love. When we come back, from being away,
and we see the ones we love, we feel something similar to the way we feel
when we are in nature. And that’s important to understand. When we step outside, nose to nose, eye to eye,
fully immersed in the wild, we are the best versions of ourselves. We are the best versions of ourselves. My friend, Alexi Murdoch,
a Scottish musician, wrote, “Remember when you were only a child.” “Remember when you were only a child. Start to see with your blue mind. Start to see with your blue mind, and don’t be afraid. Don’t be afraid of what you find.” If you we’ve been given a blue marble, I want you to take a hold
of that and hold it up. This is how we look like
from 1 million miles away. You’ll notice that we are small,
and we are blue. It’s because of the water. This is a simple token
of gratitude, and it’s a gift, and I would like you to share it
with somebody today. And say thank you to them for what they do to put
our planet back together. And I wanted it to be a reminder to go deeper into this medicine
that we call nature, that we are so fortunate to have so handy we called it ocean. Go deeper into it, Be part of your own blue mind. I wish you water. Thank you. (Applause)

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